Director: Peter Yates
3. WRITE TO-DO LIST AS MASSIVE CLUE FOR ANY DETECTIVE WHO HAPPENS TO BE INVESTIGATING MY FINAL MOVEMENTS.
This police detective thriller has a bit more style than substance, but what style! The slick, showy opening titles set the tone nicely. Steve McQueen is just so very very cool as the title character. Robert Vaughn also does well as a slimy, selfish politician. The car chase sequence is regarded as one of the best in cinematic history and I won’t dispute that categorisation; it’s gripping and fast and quite incredible. Some of the stuff with Bullitt’s girlfriend is hokey and seems plucked from a different movie. I found it amusing and a touch distracting that the Mafia is referred to throughout the film as ‘the organisation’ – perhaps for a similar reason that the word Mafia isn’t used in The Godfather? Perhaps not; apparently in the case of The Godfather it was because of action taken by mobster Joe Colombo’s Italian-American Civil Rights League, whereas the League didn’t exist when Bullitt was made.
Director: Anthony Harvey
Our key players, all standing in a row to converse together – very theatrical. Notice young Anthony Hopkins, third from the left, having a hilariously childish fit.
This movie, and the performances in it, have received substantial critical acclaim. Regrettably I must respectfully disagree with my forebears and report my disappointment with it. Set in 1183, it dramatises machinations between Henry II (Peter O’Toole), his estranged wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn), and three of his sons (one, Richard the Lionheart, played by Anthony Hopkins in his film debut), all of whom wish to succeed him. There are some impressive scenes and exchanges, and the actors are skilled, but I couldn’t shake the feeling they were all overdoing it a bit. There’s a lot of shouting and posturing and very little subtlety or shade. Also, Hepburn’s accent is pretty jarring in this context, given how all the other characters speak. By the end I wasn’t sure how much point there had been in telling this story.